Among the species which returned "home", there are alligators, sea and riverotters, gray wolves, whales, orangutans, bald eagles, and mountain lions, among others. This is an ancient norm, which is the way we put these species before the last paragraph of a hard-to-reach refuge. Sea otters are among this list of adaptable predators - and they're even helping balance out the food chain in the new seabeds they've moved into. "Now, they are returning", he said in a statement.
"We can no longer chalk up a large alligator on a beach or coral reef as an aberrant sighting", Brian Silliman, a professor of marine conservation biology at Duke, writes in a press release.
A new study claims that it is normal to spot alligators on beaches and mountain lions away from mountains.
Many have raised the theory that as these animal populations rebound, the predators are increasing their habitats and even settles in new regions.
Alligator feeding on blue crab in barrier island salt marshes in Georgia.
"This assumption has been extensively reinforced in the scientific community and in the mass media because these animals are habitat experts, so they live here", said Silman. However, while movies tend to make out such a situation as a major disaster, the addition of alligators and other predators into these ecosystems is a good thing for both animals and humans - at least according to the authors of the recent study. But this is based on studies and observations made while these populations were in sharp decline.
While it's become a bit of a trope in the movies as predators start to encroach on areas that they weren't a part of previously, it seems that real life is following suit with the introduction of alligators into ecosystems that they haven't been present in for quite some time.
"It tells us that these species can thrive in a wide variety of habitats", said Silman. Sea otters, for instance, can adapt and thrive if we introduce them into estuaries that don't have kelp forests. For instance, there are live wires that can electrocute animals, or plastic and toxic objects they could unwittingly consume. "We will find out soon enough".
What Does The Return Of Predators Mean?
The paper says: "Sea otters along the northeast Pacific coast have expanded into estuarine marshes and seagrasses, and alligators on the southeast U.S. coast have expanded into saltwater ecosystems, habitats presently thought beyond their niche space".
However, the new study has something else to say. For example, coming back of sea otters to estuarine seagrass beds can massively help in protecting the beds from the wrath of epiphytic algae as otters eat Dungeness crabs, which otherwise eat too many algae-grazing sea slugs that form the bed's front line of defense.
According to Silliman, it would require tens of millions of dollars to reconstruct upstream watersheds that have proper nutrient buffers to achieve the same effect that sea otters have on the beds at no cost.
Funding came from the Stolarz Foundation, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, a David H. Smith Conservation Fellowship, the US Geological Survey, and the California Coastal Conservancy.
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